Hey guys! Today I am reviewing the Throne of Glass series so this is going to be a long post. I am going to do this in sections because there is a lot to discuss. So first I am going to give my overall thoughts on the series, without any spoilers. Then I will discuss the reading order because these novels can be complicated. And finally, I am going to break down each book individually and there will be spoilers in this section. I’ll mark where the spoilers begin so you can skip that section. But I thought I would include my thoughts just in case you have read the series and are interested in what I thought. Okay, let’s get into it.
I’ve mentioned this on other social media platforms but I have quickly become obsessed with booktok – which is the book community on TikTok. I have changed my TikTok account to be a booktok account, so if you like books I would recommend you follow me there. Anyway, it’s been a couple of years since I was really into reading so there were so books that are popular that I haven’t read. One of the most popular series on booktok is the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. It’s a high fantasy novel and I haven’t read anything like that for a while so I decided to give it a go. There are seven books and one book of novellas.
The first novel is about Celaena, a trained assassin who has been imprisoned by the King of Adarlan. She is given the chance to compete against 23 other assassins to serve the King and be free. As Celaena competes she befriends the Crown Prince and the Captain of the Guard. But as the competition progresses, the competitors start mysteriously dying. Celaena must win the competition but also figure out what is going on in the castle.
Now the plot of this series advances from this first novel. There is magic, witches, fae and dragons in the later novels. There is lots of fighting and death but also a fair share of magic as well.
So things I liked about this series. I loved the main character Celaena. She is the badass fighter but she also has a girly side where she loves dresses and the arts. I like that Celaena is balanced because sometimes female characters in fantasy novels can be quite one-sided. She can be quite stubborn and selfish in the earlier novels, but I loved how her character develops throughout the later novels.
I found that the vast majority of the characters in the novel were pretty complex and developed throughout the series. Maas has a huge cast of characters throughout the series. It can a little annoying at first because I just wanted to read from Celaena’s point of view, but I grew to love the other characters and were happy to read from their point of view. The only characters who I didn’t love were Dorian and Aedion because I found both of them to be quite one-note.
I also love the world-building in the novels, especially in Tower of Dawn. The world that Maas created is huge. There are multiple continents and I appreciated how each one was different. Maas put details in how these places looked, smelled, what they wore and what they ate. I was very immersed and would love to visit some of these places.
Now the things that I think could be improved. First, if you go on booktok you’ll notice pretty quickly that while they love this book they are also very quick to point out that there isn’t much diversity. Yes, there are so diverse characters in some of the later novels but they all side characters. It’s a fantasy series so Maas could have made some people purple but a lot of them were white with either blonde or dark hair. I think it would have been great if Maas had made her characters more diverse.
There is a lot of history and folklore in the series, which was mainly introduced in Heir of Fire. I found it somewhat overwhelming to be thrown all this lore all at once. I also sometimes found myself forgetting which god or dead queen/king was who. I think Maas could have done a better job of slowly introducing these elements in the earlier novels and giving better reminders throughout the series.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the way that the magic system was described, but I think that’s a very personal opinion. For example, Aelin’s power is fire and I’ve (somewhat) recently read Red Queen where one of the main character’s power is also fire. I just didn’t like the description as much compared to Red Queen. It just didn’t seem as real or organic is that makes any sense.
Finally, the last two novels are more war-based plotlines and that’s just not as much my thing. I’ve read a few war plotlines and I just don’t like them as much, even though it’s a common element in fantasy novels. I find war to be tedious and sad. But despite the war, there were still some great elements in the later books.
So overall I would give this series 5/5. I know, that’s my first 5/5 I think since starting to rate novels. And even though I did have some cons to this series, I found that they didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the series. This is the fastest I’ve ever read a series. The first couple of novels I was reading within 3/4 days. I read Empire of Storms within a week. A similar length novel is Midnight Sun and it took me three weeks to read that novel. I was engaged and felt very connected to the characters. And I cried so much during the last novel. If you like fantasy, you HAVE to read this series. It’s great!
So I’ve mentioned that there are seven books and one book of novellas that are a prequel to the series. In a similar way that they are multiple ways to watch Star Wars, there are multiple ways to read this series. There is no ‘wrong’ way, but the order can change how much you perceive the series. So I read:
- Throne of Glass
- Crown of Midnight
- The Assassin’s Blade
- Heir of Fire
- Queen of Shadows
- Empire of Storms
- Tower of Dawn
- Kingdom of Ash
The Assassin’s Blade is the prequel novellas but they are quite important to the series. It’s helpful to read them because there are characters in them that come back later in the series. I had read online to read them after Crown of Midnight because you don’t need to before them. But Crown of Midnight ends on a cliff-hanger and I wished I could have gone straight to Heir of Fire. So I actually would have read The Assassin’s Blade after Throne of Glass. I think Throne of Glass has a complete enough ending where you want to continue the series but you wouldn’t be annoyed going back in time. But I wouldn’t read The Assassin’s Blade first because it’s helpful to know a bit about the world before going to the book.
Also, Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn happen simultaneously. I know some people skip Tower of Dawn because Empire of Storms has a huge cliff-hanger. But I would highly recommend not skipping Tower of Dawn because it’s a great book. Where Tower of Dawn takes place is one of my favourite places in the series and some of the characters are very important for Kingdom of Ash. If you don’t think you can handle not having a cliff-hanger, there is some tandem-reading list where you go back and forth between Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn. I didn’t read it that way so I’m not sure what it’s like, but either way I wouldn’t skip Tower of Dawn.
*** Spoilers coming up**** Individual Book Reviews
Throne of Glass
I liked this book! I read it in three days which is a record for me. I was just so hooked and engaged. I like Chaol better than Dorian. I know that they are a lot of Dorian fans online, but there is something about him that I just don’t like. I find him to be a bit of a f*ckboy where he just cares about himself.
It’s hard for me to remember what Chaol was like in the first novel since he has such a huge character development throughout the series and he was an asshole in the middle of the series. But I think I liked him in the first novel because he was just trying to help Celaena and be her friend.
My one critique was that I wished there was more romance because it was pretty bare in the first novel. (Don’t worry, there is more later in the series).
Crown of Midnight
I liked the first half of the novel. I enjoyed the building romance between Chaol and Celaena. I also enjoyed the friendship between Celaena and Nehemia. So you can imagine how gutted I was when Nehemia was killed. I guessed that Nehemia was going to die sometime within the series, I didn’t expect it the way that it happened.
It’s quite hard for me to wrap my head around Nehemia’s death and the repercussions it had. At the time I was frustrated because I shipped Chaol and Celaena hard and this moment ruined their relationship. But what happened and their reactions are super important to the over-arching storyline. So at the time, I thought everyone was overreacting but now I’m happy if that makes any sense.
I also guessed that Celaena was Aelin but I did not guess that Celaena was fae. So basically every plot twist Maas writes I partially guess but not fully it seems.
The Assassin’s Blade
As I mentioned before, I wish I had read this novel after Throne of Glass. But after reading it I could see how it’s important. The first three novellas are Celaena meeting people who will later be allies in the later novels.
I was shocked by The Assassin and the Red Dessert. I never expected that Ansel was going to betray the Silent Assassins.
I know that a lot of people loved Sam but I wasn’t as huge of a fan. I could see how the relationship was doomed in some sense by the way they acted in the last two novellas. But I do see his importance in being her first love. Which is something that I like that Maas does. She does switch up the love interest but that’s what real life is like. Some people do meet and stay with their first relationship, but most people have many relationships and they learn and grow from them. I think Sam is her first love and is important because he showed Celaena that it’s possible to love and care for people.
Heir of Fire
As I mentioned above, I found the beginning of this novel to be a little confusing. All of the fae and witch lore were thrown all at once so it was a little confusing to keep track of everything. This is also the first novel where Manon’s storyline is thrown in so the extra point of view can be a bit confusing. I found myself always wanted to go back to Aelin’s point of view just because I didn’t connect to Manon yet and found what was happening back in Rifthold not as interesting.
I wasn’t as sure that I was going to like Rowan as much as Chaol but he quickly grew on me. As soon as I learned about his relationship with Lyria I was in love with him. This love only continued to grow throughout the series.
On the other hand, I found Dorian’s relationship with Sorscha to be so bland. He said that he loved her but to me, it felt more like an infatuation. But I was pretty shocked when Sorscha was murdered though. That was crazy.
This novel was when Aedion was introduced as well. And I’ll say it here that I’m not a huge fan of Aedion as well. I found him to be pretty one-note and honestly just not that interesting.
I found this pacing of the second half of the novel to be pretty good with what was happening in Mistward (and whatever else happened in this novel that I can’t remember lol).
Queen of Shadows
This is my favourite novel in the series. I found it was a perfect balance between battle and court intrigue. The only thing is that I couldn’t wait until Aelin and Rowan were reunited, but I think helped me read through the first half of the novel quickly. The only thing I didn’t like was reading Dorian’s point of view, but I was happy that it was kept to a minimum.
I love Lysandra’s plotline in this novel. I knew I was going to like her even when she was supposed to be a bitch in The Assassin’s Blade. I was happy that she got to kill Arobynn in the end.
I know a lot of people didn’t like Chaol in this book and I do agree that he said some pretty awful stuff to Aelin. Calling her a monster was pretty uncalled for. And he also endangered everyone’s life by trying to get to Dorian with the witches present. But I do get that Chaol was going through a crisis of his whole world going up-side-down and he was just scared of something that he felt was out of his control. But I think he did realize he was in the wrong and apologized in the end.
I also loved Manon and Elide’s plotline in this book. I really like Elide because she shows that you can be a strong and brave person without having to have magic like some of the other characters. I also liked seeing Manon grow and realize that she doesn’t have to be a hateful person.
Empire of Storms
I did not expect the twist with Darrow denying Aelin her crown. But it leads to Aelin going to Pirate’s Bay and I love this twist with Lysandra becoming a sea dragon. I thought it was great.
Also, I got the romance that I was looking for in this novel. I think the scene when Aelin and Rowan were in the water after the fight at Pirate’s Bay was immaculate.
I enjoyed reading about Elide and Lorcan. I think their romance is my favourite after Aelin and Rowan. They are enemies to lovers but I love how even with everything that Elide keeps her independence.
I was shocked and saddened when Maeve captured Aelin, but I didn’t find that I needed to immediately go to Kingdom of Ash and skip Tower of Dawn. There was a part of me that knew Aelin would escape somehow so I was fine to pause that storyline and go to Tower of Dawn.
Tower of Dawn
I liked this one! I think it might be my second favourite after Queen of Shadows. I just loved the world of the southern continent and found it so interesting compared to the northern continent.
I think Chaol’s character development throughout this novel was amazing. He went from an asshole who thought he was worthless to being a great guy. I loved Yrene and the relationship between the two was great.
I also loved Nesryn’s adventure she had with the ruks. I also cried when Sartaq came to Nesryn’s uncle’s house at the end of the novel. He told Nesryn was named heir and wanted to be with her if she would have him. Oh, I just love it!
I found this novel to be very engaging and I didn’t necessarily miss the other storyline. I was very happy that I read it.
Kingdom of Ash
Man, I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this novel. First I cried SO MUCH while reading it. Some tears were of sadness and some were happiness.
I finally understood why people like Fenrys because I found him bland before this novel. He stood beside Aelin while she was being tortured. And he broke the blood oath to help her and she returned the favour by giving him the blood oath to keep him alive.
I found that it took forever for Aelin to escape/get rescued. I found it agonizing to read about Aelin getting torture, but I understand that Maas probably did that to help the reader understand what Aelin was feeling.
I loved with Elide rode into the field to find Lorcan even though there was a high chance that she would die. I found the whole scene so romantic but also scary because they could have died. There were many emotions.
I also loved when it Manon was crowned Queen of the Witches and called everyone to war. It gives me shivers thinking about it.
I sobbed when I read the Thirteen sacrificing themselves. I think Maas developed the relationship between Manon and the Thirteen well so it was heart-wrenching when they died. And then all the city putting stones to honour their sacrifice – I am still tearing up thinking about it.
I guessed that Aelin and Dorian would try and seal the gate together, but I did not guess that Aelin would kick Dorian out and try to do it herself. I was also crying happy tears about the fact that Rowan tattooed a map for Aelin to get back home to him. The love between the two of them is unreal.
I think Evangeline’s character was so cute. She was able to melt Darrow’s heart so she would be named his heir and ensure that Aelin would be crowned in the end. I like how Aelin asked Evangeline to win back her crown earlier in the series and she managed to do so later.
I was sobbing as well with the moments between Gavriel and Aedion right before Gavriel sacrificed himself. It’s so sad. I like how Maas built different relationships within the novel. There were romantic relationships but also friendships and family. I also cried when Aelin gave Gavriel the blood oath after he died. I’m crying right now just writing.
And my final favourite moment is Aelin saying to Yrene that they were a long way from where they met in The Assassin’s Blade. Aelin also asked all the women to walk with her after she was crowned. There was some amazing male character in this novel, but the female characters were all spectacular. They were strong and independent and they were the ones that saved the kingdom at the end of the day.
And that is my very long review of the Throne of Glass series. Sorry that it’s so long but the series was long and there was so much I wanted to say. I promise that not every book review will be like this. This is a special book review for a special book series. I am very excited to read Maas’ other books in the future!